The best part of being the Garden Terrace LEC? Seeing residents ‘happy and being engaged’

Rachael King reflects on her first three months on the job at Garden Terrace

Rachael King says there are many things she likes about being the life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) at Garden Terrace, but one aspect that especially stands out for her is being part of a team that makes a positive difference in residents’ lives.

“I love to see the residents happy and being engaged; I think that’s honestly one of the greatest things,” she tells The OMNIway.

Rachael became the LEC at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home in early April. While starting a new job at a long-term care home during the COVID-19 pandemic had its challenges, Rachael says it has also been an opportunity to enhance the quality of people’s lives during a difficult time.

Working within safety protocols, Rachael has come up with ideas for new programming for residents since becoming LEC.

For example, she started a popular weekly outdoor environmental education program for residents so they can learn about North American animals and plants.

She also helped organize a recent carnival for residents which was also a big hit.

Rachael says she works with outstanding staff members in the life enrichment department and that has made her transition into the LEC position easier.

“I work with great staff, and the residents make it a lot of fun, too,” she says. “I really think there is a solid team here that makes everything happen; they’ve made it all come together.”

As much as the pandemic has been challenging for everyone, Rachael says it has also made people working in long-term care homes stronger.

She says she and the Garden Terrace life enrichment team have had to think outside the box and be creative to deliver programming that meets safety requirements.

Given that everyone has done so well during the pandemic, Rachael says she’s looking forward to seeing what they can do as a team after the pandemic ends.

“I am really excited about the future prospects of having even more activities and even more opportunities for the residents,” she says.

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Carnival day at Garden Terrace brings back fond memories for residents

‘They got to be kids again, and they loved that’

Garden Terrace residents were treated to a carnival at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home that embraced the OMNI Health Care value of fun and laughter and brought back lots of fond memories.

The July 9 carnival included a candy-floss machine, a target game played with bean bags, a T-shirt painting contest (done with a water gun) and carnival music.

Residents even got to give staff members a few pies in the face.

“Residents had a really fun time,” life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King tells The OMNIway. “They got to have fun and not worry because it has been a tough year.

“Residents were able to reminisce from their childhood. … It was really nice to see.”

The carnival, which was held outdoors with pandemic safety protocols in effect, was the first large outdoor event for Garden Terrace residents this year.

Rachael says the residents enjoyed all the memories the carnival brought back for them.

And nothing says “great time” like throwing a pie at staff members, she laughs.

“They got to be kids again, and they loved that,” Rachael says. “And the cotton candy. They really liked the cotton candy.”

Other events residents are looking forward to in the coming weeks include outdoor entertainment, a visit from a local chip truck and, if everything goes as planned, a dunk tank on July 29 where residents will have a chance to soak Garden Terrace staff members.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to keep the morale high,” Rachael says.

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Garden Terrace environmental education program combines fun with learning

Residents are getting cognitive exercise and learning fun facts about animals and plants while being outdoors

A new program created by life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King is teaching Garden Terrace residents about animals and plants native to North America in a fun and interactive way while providing a safe outdoor activity.

Rachael, who has a background in environmental education, launched the program in early June. There has been a lot of interest from residents at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home since the program began.

“Residents are really enjoying it,” Rachael tells The OMNIway.

The program is similar to a scavenger hunt. Before the program begins, Rachael places animal miniatures and examples of flora with ID tags in the Garden Terrace courtyard. When residents find animals or plants, they read information sheets Rachael provides to learn about what each specimen is, its native habitat and a fun fact.

“This gets residents outside, but they are also provided with a bit of education on North American animals,” Rachael says.

“We do have some safari animals as well, but we try to stick to creatures like bears and wolves.”

Rachael says aside from the fun and education residents garner from the program, an activity like this is also a great cognitive exercise.

Due to restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, large-group programming is currently on hold in Ontario long-term care homes.

But because the environmental education program is held outdoors with social distancing measures in place, more residents can participate in the activity.

Typically, there are about 10 to 12 residents participating each time the program is held, Rachael adds.

“There are a lot of great things to explore, and this program helps with cognition, memory and reminiscing, so I thought it would be cool to bring this to Garden Terrace.”

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OMNI manager’s case study to be used as part of coursework on crisis management

Ruzica Subotic-Howell used her experience as a DOC during the COVID-19 outbreak at Almonte Country Haven in 2020 as the focal point for her submission

A case study focused on crisis management that Ruzica Subotic-Howell created as part of the coursework for a training program aimed at long-term-care home directors of care (DOCs) and assistant directors of care (ADOCs) was so well received by the company offering the course that it will now be used as a component of the training program.

Ruzica, the director of infection, prevention and control at Garden Terrace, was enrolled in the DOC/ADOC leadership program offered by Silver Meridian, a Whitby, Ont.-based health-care consultancy firm, in 2020 while she was DOC at Almonte Country Haven.

The Silver Meridian DOC/ADOC leadership program is a certificate course that includes components focusing on the challenges nurse leaders face in long-term care homes and how they can overcome those challenges.

The program is offered to directors of care (DOCs) and assistant directors of care (ADOCs) or those who aspire to hold these positions in a long-term care home.

The case study Ruzica developed was based on her experiences working at Almonte Country Haven during the COVID-19 outbreak that impacted the home shortly after the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization last March.

Ruzica’s case study largely focuses on the challenges the home faced, the approaches used to control the outbreak, what she learned as a nurse leader, and how she and others worked with stakeholders in a fast-paced, constantly changing environment to control a virus which, at the time, little was known about.

The written narrative Ruzica submitted garnered positive feedback from Silver Meridian. Silver Meridian said her submission was an “exemplary example of a crisis management case study” that demonstrated innovation and leadership, was well focused and proactive.

Ruzica says she’s honoured Silver Meridian asked to use her case study to help others learn.

“I was deeply, deeply touched, because I wrote about the real-time experiences that we were having at the time of the outbreak so that we would retain that knowledge,” Ruzica tells The OMNIway.

Ruzica says a major highlight of her case study was on the importance of teamwork during a crisis. During the COVID-19 outbreak at Almonte Country Haven, people working in all departments came together to share ideas and information to help everyone through a challenging time. This teamwork proved to be valuable in getting the home through the outbreak.

“It was unbelievable; the nursing team and all the other departments came together,” Ruzica says. “It had to be a team effort, and the bonds and relationships that were created were unbelievable.”

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Colourful artwork spreads joy at Garden Terrace

The Ottawa-area LTC home recently received a piece of artwork through the Colourful Connections program created by a local church

Stittsville United Church launched a program in late 2020 to use art to bring cheer and inspirational messages to people across the Ottawa region during the COVID-19 pandemic. Garden Terrace has now been touched by one of the initiative’s random acts of kindness.

The Kanata, Ont. long-term care home recently received a piece of artwork through Stittsville United Church’s Colourful Connections program.

Through this program, the church works with community partners, including local artists of all ages, to provide artwork to people and organizations across the region.

The artwork Garden Terrace received is a four-by-eight-foot brightly coloured painting with the words “You Matter” featured prominently.

Garden Terrace team members have placed the piece in the home’s front lobby, so it has been getting lots of attention, says Kelly Peterson, the home’s interim life enrichment co-ordinator.

Kelly says the artwork Garden Terrace received is an example of how a kind gesture can have a positive impact on others during a challenging time.

“We all need some colour and inspiration of positivity during these times,” she tells The OMNIway.

“A friendly reminder that kindness and a smile go a long way.”

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Garden Terrace residents and staff receive first round of COVID-19 vaccinations

‘We are so happy; it’s a relief and excitement’

Garden Terrace residents and staff members received their first round of COVID-19 vaccinations at the Ottawa-area long-term care home on Jan. 13.

More than 20 paramedics from the local public health unit were at Garden Terrace to administer the vaccinations on Thursday.

There were 138 Garden Terrace residents who consented to receive the vaccine. All of the home’s managers and many of the front-line staff members and essential caregivers also received immunizations.

There will be a second round of vaccinations performed at Garden Terrace in three weeks.

“We are so happy; it’s a relief and excitement,” Garden Terrace’s director of infection, prevention and control Ruzica Subotic-Howell tells The OMNIway.

“We have (most) of the residents vaccinated and that’s exciting, and all of the managers have been vaccinated as well.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March 2020. At the time of this writing, the Government of Canada website is reporting there have been 674,473 cases of people in Canada contracting the virus. The website reports that 17,233 Canadians have died as a result of COVID-19 infection.

The Government of Ontario says on its website that vaccinations will be crucial to curbing COVID-19 infection.

“(Vaccines) will be an important tool to help stop the spread of the virus and allow individuals, families and workers to safely resume normal life,” the website states.

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine does not cause a coronavirus infection. It helps to build up your immunity to the virus, so your body will fight it off more easily if it affects you.”

Ruzica commends Garden Terrace team members for planning Thursday’s visit from the paramedics with precision and ensuring the immunizations went smoothly and in a timely manner.

“Every single manager in every department was diligent and organized to make this a success,” she says.

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Hallway music keeps Garden Terrace residents movin’ and groovin’

Garden Terrace resident Jack Dean is pictured here having a laugh during a hallway dance.

Garden Terrace team members are proving they can still provide a fun atmosphere to keep residents’ spirits high while maintaining important physical distancing protocols in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

6-year-old boy raises $300-plus to support Almonte Country Haven team during outbreak

Six-year-old Lennox Donnelly, the grandson of Garden Terrace office manager Karen Paquette, is pictured here with macramé key chains he made and sold to raise money to support the Almonte Country Haven team.

Lennox Donnelly, the grandson of Garden Terrace office manager Karen Paquette, sold homemade macramé key chains to raise the money

Garden Terrace office manager Karen Paquette is a proud grandmother who just became a little prouder. Read more

Kanata restaurants and local business treat Garden Terrace team to meals

Garden Terrace staff members received more than 115 individual pizzas from Papa Sam’s restaurant on April 16.

‘Everyone is coming together, from front-line staff to our local businesses – it is beautiful to see and it is filling my heart with gratitude,’ says administrator

The Garden Terrace team has recently been on the receiving end of random acts of kindness from local businesses. Read more

Video thanks Garden Terrace team for keeping residents safe during pandemic

A family member of a Garden Terrace resident and her friend have created a video thanking staff members at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home for the hard work they’re doing and the sacrifices they’re making to keep residents safe during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. Read more